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LC, SQU. Language FORUM - Farah Bahrouni, Feb.

2006

Using the Web: Guidelines for ESL/EFL Teachers By Farah Bahrouni LC, SQU – Feb. 06 Overview This article provides practical hints to how to use the World Wide Web to help our students practice more what we give them in class in any of the language skills. It has three sections. The first is meant to touch upon the readers’ inquisitive and adventurous spirits to incite them to create their own interactive pages as it is the best way to present online materials that meet one’s students’ needs. The second shows the advantages of using the Web for language institutions as well as their students, while the third cites some websites as examples of what the Web can offer ESL learners. By providing useful information about the Web, I hope to provide them with its ‘greatest advantage… the ability to seek out and learn by using this virtual infinity of world-wide knowledge.’ (Wilson 2004) Interactive Web Pages More and more ESL teachers are realizing that the Web can be, and actually is, a magnificent resource for language instruction, to quote Meloni (2005) ‘a gold mine of materials for ESL teachers’. There are oodles of Websites that ‘offer students instant access to a wide range of authentic material, from newspaper and magazine articles to radio broadcasts and informal chat-rooms, and also to material prepared specially for learners, such as grammar, pronunciation and vocabulary exercises and tests’ Moras (2001). Web proponents have researched, collected and, sometimes, even cataloged such sites. The most valuable ESL sites are those which call for incorporating Web activities into classes, including at times detailed lesson plans and teaching tips. To get started, one had better start browsing through some of the Web pages already created by other ESL teachers to have an idea of what is up there. There are a great variety of approaches to using the Web, and it is very helpful to sample some different sites to get a sense of what is possible. Before sending our students online, we need to ‘understand the types of [Web] sites and their uses… to help [them] improve their English abilities, and the basis of pessimistic views and myths that have stymied the use of the computer-Internet combination for ESL/EFL learning.’ (Wilson 2004) Once you are acquainted with what is available on the Web, and you have collected enough sites to help you shape your opinion about the nature, the approach and the cultural aspects of the online materials, the next step is to create your own interactive page, where you include your own tailored course materials that truly fit your students’ needs. We are all aware that language teaching requires a more active kind of learning than most other disciplines. ‘You can't learn to use a language by listening to lectures or by just studying the theory (or the grammar)’ (Jones, 1998). Put succinctly, practice is fundamental. It is therefore rational to solicit the Web as a strong L2 learning assistant that has a great potential. As ESL teachers, we are at a greater advantage than our colleagues of other languages since most of the online stuff is put in English. We need to empower that assistant to interact with our students. We aim at having our students work with authentic language materials as much as possible, and to assess their understanding through some kind of evaluation matrix (ibid). By dint of frequent and consistent exposure to authentic materials presented in the target language (in both oral and written forms), we 1

if not. But if you do it yourself. The Web offers the possibility of making these materials available electronically and putting them into an interactive environment. One last word before I wrap up this section. which. Basically. on the Web. language centers tend to develop huge amounts of in-house materials. Of course. but also to create new patterns (ibid). we can confidently say that we have succeeded in helping our students ‘learn how to learn’. With all the hype about technological change. home schooling or the like. (Jones1998). Yet.. Think about Moodle. per se. Thus. for example. moving digital.. Sooner or later. as well as teachers’ creative ways used on their Web pages. A canned program created for you by a guru may not be easily updated or customized if you have little idea how it was put together. make sure to spend some time learning the basics. ‘Those who do not get ahead of the curve and find ways to get the technology to do what makes sense in their discipline will down the road find themselves using pre-formatted. would definitely save language institutions a lot and serve their students far much better. once you begin creating interactive. ESL teachers by and large still supplement class work with handouts containing verb charts. language teachers needn’t be concerned about losing their jobs as computers can and will never replace human beings in a discipline devoted to human communication in all its linguistic. that computers and the Web. additional exercises.’ On the other hand. collaborate learning and making authentic materials comprehensible. which is the first essential step in acquiring and developing ‘the strategies of self directed learning . Having said this. you will discover you are operating in an opulently flexible environment that allows you not just to emulate others. you tailor it to what you want. The in-house materials are meant to supplement the main textbooks. readings or photocopied media. 2006 aim at having students use the language as much as possible. through writing and speaking. Feb. both inside and outside the class. however. Essentially. to a certain extent. I am talking about electronic versions of what language teachers are already using. Needless to say. and you can change it the time and the way you like. which a guru might not have (ibid). All this can be done. especially if you have learned things yourself stumbling through trial and error. dynamic Web pages. and the great possibilities it offers. I am not invoking a total rely on the Web. 1976).LC. make little sense for language learning. yet it still takes some effort to develop something of your own. pre-digested. compared to others. I think. SQU. pictures. but actually both the main course and the in-house materials books end up by being supplemented. Before you are ready to create your own interactive learning materials. the most important reason for doing it yourself is that you have the teaching experience and knowledge that is requisite in creating programs for language learning. we all have to admit that technology is causing and accelerating major social and educational change. let alone the multimedia facilities that can’t easily be used elsewhere. they will be at a great disadvantage with their students. Moving digital would entail a reduction in the teaching hours since all the in-house materials will be put on the web paralleled by 2 .Farah Bahrouni. Moving Digital More often than not. one-size-fits-all models. social and cultural aspects. can never provide as effective or efficient a means of learning a language as one-on-one human interaction. all teachers will have to take advantage of some aspects of technology in their teaching. It is a fact that computer programs and operating systems are getting simpler and easier to use all the time. you know all its tidbits. [and] the skills necessary to go on their own when they leave school’ (Knowles. Jones (1998) put it this way. which is neither cost nor time effective. Once we have reached that stage. Language FORUM . I am just calling upon the use of technology to supplement what we do in class and to help doing what we cannot do very well now_ share multimedia.

As they go through the information. remote. Nowadays the Internet enables students not only to choose the WHEN and the WHERE. 2. SQU. and even pronunciation exercises can be put on the Web and made interactive in a variety of ways. 3 . The following links have variety of listening activities from sentence level to long conversations. in their turn. Listening and Pronunciation Modern technology has had a tremendous impact on listening. ending up by having a web of related pages/sites approaching the same topic/issue from different angles. take users to other related ones.Farah Bahrouni. cutting down considerably on paper. Teaches students essential life-long skills that prepare them for their future life_ basic computer skills. Wean students off their teachers and on self-reliance. Students have 24-hour. Feb. These sites are very useful as they provide opportunities to practice and improve the listening comprehension skills. Materials can be edited and updated easily. 9. subject-wise. Free the learning process from time and space constraints. and best of all get immediate feedback. Fox (1998). Singhal (1997) and Warschauer (1997). have more time to be creative not only as the main course teachers. but as cyber guides and facilitators. This upshot alone would be enough to bring about a slew of advantages: freeing more teachers and rooms to accommodate the institution’s new intake. do as many tasks as they want. but. ‘Launching-Pad’ Web Sites A vast array of basic language skills can be enhanced using Web-based activities. Language FORUM . the HOW. Following are what I see as advantages of moving digital: 1. LANCBALM could be categorized either level-wise. Implementing this would necessarily require that the Language Center should invest some of the above mentioned savings on well maintaining the present computer labs and equipping few more according to the needs. 4. more than any other language learning area. 3. comprehension exercises. grammar lessons. 2006 an increase in the weekly computer-lab lessons allocated to each section. Create an ever-snowballing ‘Bank of Learning Materials’ (I’d suggest to refer to it as LANCBALM). the WHO. critical thinking and how to be selective. and the WHAT to listen to. hence learners will have more time to focus. listen as many times as they need. ink and the printing equipment. and so will teachers. 5. independent access. Vocabulary practice. 8.LC. 7. and may be more importantly. The topics are also so varied to choose from that they can be categorized in themes. Hypertexts include links to other related pages. students develop and improve their reading skills: skimming and scanning. reading and writing tasks. and most of all reducing both the students and the teachers’ load. The use of Real Audio programs as well as Real Video programs is meant to motivate the learner and makes listening as enjoyable as possible. which. Cost and Time Effective. 6. hold the reins of their own learning themselves and direct it towards their majors. The development in sound and graphics technology has consistently been nullifying problems and obstacles that have long stood as impediments to effective listening. topic-wise or major-wise. They can choose the level of difficulty they fit in. and so on. in their turn.

the clip is played via a plug-in (Warschauer. their task has been simplified even further. Audio clips can be put into Web pages to provide exercises for listening comprehension. Randall's ESL Cyber Listening Lab and Dave’s ESL Café. English Pronunciation American English Pronunciation Practice (minimal pairs +) . Feb. Paragraph Punch Guide to Grammar & Writing Paragraph Builder TESOL Internet Resources (all skills) Writer’s Guide Paragraph Essentials 4 . and then put on a Web page. to mention only these. If a teacher finds that these sites do not serve their students’ needs and want to tailor their own materials.Pronunciation Pronunciation Resources on the WWW Listening comprehension exercises. and vocabulary development. Some even offer the chance to record one’s own voice and compare their pronunciation to that of a native speaker. It is a new way of connecting students with native speakers and authentic materials. The newest technology in audio on the Web is streaming audio. 2000).LC.Farah Bahrouni. such as fill-in-the-gap exercises done while listening to audio. 2000). It virtually transports the target language environment to the second language classroom without waiting for huge files to download. Language FORUM . such as MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface). Students can listen to live radio stations from around the world or hear prerecorded broadcasts of music. provide excellent examples of how audio files can be used for listening comprehension. can be nicely uploaded on the Web. SQU. Audio files must be put into an appropriate format. sports. the links below have every possible means to help learners speak English correctly. and weather. avoiding the sometimes time-consuming download of RealAudio clips. Shetzer. When the user clicks on the audio link. Reading and Writing The following links provide different activities to help ESL learners improve their writing. & Meloni. This allows the user to play the clips immediately. news. Shetzer. which provides real-time playing of clip files (Warschauer. & Meloni. pronunciation practice. 2006 Randall’s ESL Cyber Listening Lab Listening Page 1 As for the speaking.On-Line Lessons Pronunciation Skills /p/ vs /b/ ESL Independent Study Lab .

there are increasingly more wonderful resources available on the Internet for students to use to improve their reading skill. e-mail allows the students to communicate easily with hundreds of students. Language FORUM . texts. instructions. They reinforce students’ acquisitions and provide the required information. e-mail provides students with an excellent opportunity for real and natural written communication. whatever the task is. are only examples. the messages that the teacher sends back to students are very important to them. and information while improving their reading and writing skills. Second. First.. e-mail supplies opportunities for independent learning which is essential for second language writing. In ESL environments. Most of the stuff provided on the web is presented in a written form. exchange of dialogue journals and writing conferencing (Belisle. During the last two years. It can provide information. As for the reading. Now.LC. let alone stories. and stimulation for the students to read and write more and more. student-student communications including formal and informal discussions. my tenure at the Language Center. especially when it is about their model stars or sportsmen.. 2006 Along These Lines: Writing Sentences & Paragraphs Learn English (all skills) OWL Handouts : Complete Index by Topic E-Mail Research shows that e-mail is a very useful vehicle for teaching English (Lee. E-mail can put students in contact with native speakers or other English learners around the world instantaneously and provide authentic contexts and motivations for communication. contact. I have eagerly introduced my students to websites teeming with renewable authentic materials that could be of any use to help them in their English language learning. collaboration. biographies. reports.Farah Bahrouni. Mastering these skills can empower the students to use e-mail and other types of telecommunications for the rest of their lives. knowing how to navigate through the web. 1998. Most ESL students lack sufficient opportunities for communicating in English. 1995). email enables students to have many opportunities for communication. Succinctly. SQU. E-mail can provide teacher-student. I’m Reading! Reading Comprehension Reading Comprehension Worksheets Reading Comprehension Exercises 5 . students can not accomplish it unless they READ. reading and writing in particular. and becoming familiar with the netiquette of the e-mail communication. Warschauer (1995) presents three other benefits of e-mail. captions. Third. rubrics. 1996). Using e-mail involves a wide range of other skills pertaining to computer literacy_ knowing how to use a personal computer. Warschauer. Therefore. news . Using e-mail enables such shy students to communicate their ideas and express their opinions without any embarrassment. Feb. Some students find it difficult to discuss issues with a teacher because of timidity or lack of time.

LC. Lee.org/Techniques/Lee-EmailWriting. 2006 Vocabulary and Grammar Games and exercises designed to help students learn new vocabulary are easily put on the Web.Farah Bahrouni. The Internet TESL Journal http://iteslj. Language FORUM .html retrieved 3/0603 Singhal. Using E-mail in EFL Writing Classes The Internet TESL Journal http://iteslj. E-mail activities in the ESL writing class. References       Belisle. (1998). Washington.html 3/15/05 Warschauer. NY. M. 6    . G. (1997). ‘The Internet: making it work in the ESL classroom’.M. (1998). thus contributing to the ever-snowballing cyber ESL wealth. language instructors can still use the basic tools to creatively design and tailor their own interactive materials that serve their students’ needs and upload it on the web. practice exercises and quizzes are created in the same way. R.fln.eslmag. http://iteslj. ‘The Internet and foreign language education: benefits and challenges’.org/Articles/Fox-Internet.Com ESL: English as a Second Language World-English Activities for ESL Students Learn English ESL-images Conclusion The development of Web-based language teaching and learning activities is sure to continue to be an exciting and growing field.(1976).edu/cgi/1. (1996). Feb.net/linguisticsissues/CALL. SQU. http://iteslj.org/Articles/Singhal-Internet.telus. Language Interative: Language Learning and the Web http://www.com/modules.(2005). Interesting Things for ESL Students English-Zone.html retrieved 2/16/06 Fox. and computational linguists steadily push the extremes of the field. Students click on a link at the bottom of the page to see the correct answers. While computer programmers. There may also be a "hint" button for help. DC: Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages.org/Articles/Belisle-Email. Association Press. http://www. M. A typical Web-based vocabulary activity might be a matching exercise where words or phrases are matched with definitions via a pop-up menu created with a Web form.(1998).php? name=News&file=article&sid=10 retrieved 12/21/05 Moras.html retrieved 2/20/06 Jones. E-K. Computer-Assisted Language Learning (Call) And The Internet http://www3.S.vcu.html retrieved 2/16/06 Meloni.G. The Modern Practice of Adult Education. The Internet in the Classroom A Valuable Tool and Resource for ESL/EFL Teachers.(2001).C. E-Mail for English teaching. instructional designers. (1995). Extensive grammar explications.html#how retrieved 2/20/06 Knowles.

edu/Papers/Wilson. C. R.org/Articles/Warschauer-Internet. http://iteslj. H. SQU. Shetzer. 2006    Warschauer.Farah Bahrouni. Computers and the Internet: Together a Great Tool for ESL/EFL Learners http://www10. M. (2000).. ‘The Internet for English Teaching: guidelines for teachers’. Internet for English teaching. M. VA: TESOL Publications Wilson.pdf retrieved 2/19/06 7 .rose-hulman. Language FORUM . & Meloni. Alexandria. Feb.(2004).LC. (1997).cs.html retrieved 2/20/06 Warschauer.